Monday, December 3, 2012

I Never Asked for a Honeymoon

Autumnal Seven
When it comes to new bike ownership, cyclists will often talk about the so-called honeymoon phase. Symptoms include: lack of interest in looking at other bikes, thinking that everything about the new bike is "perfect," even finding its flaws endearing. It's more than about enjoying the bike. It's like being under its spell. Some describe this as the magic faerie dust effect.

In the past, I don't think that I've gone through honeymoon phases with my bikes exactly. I am by nature analytical and tend to see things from several perspectives at once. Even in the beginning, when I was extremely excited about my first beautiful new bike, I was all the while looking at it critically. Its purchase did not diminish my curiosity about other bikes in its category, but increased it. It was in fact through comparing other bikes to mine and noticing differences, that I became interested in bicycle design. The same can be said for all of my bicycle buying and selling since: There was excitement and enjoyment, but never really a rose coloured glasses type honeymoon period. It was more about experimenting and staying open to other possibilities. Considering my interest in bicycle reviews, design, framebuilding and such, I think this is a useful attitude to have.

So it has thrown me for a loop to realise that maybe, just maybe I am in a prolongued honeymoon phase with my Seven roadbike, which I've been riding since Spring of this year. The symptoms are there: Everything about it feels "perfect." The fact that it's welded and has a carbon fork somehow only accentuates its charm, even as I wax lyrical about lugs. And more disturbingly, I have lost interest in other bikes in its category. This last part is a problem! I would like, in theory to keep trying other roadbikes and comparing them, thereby learning more about the feel of different frame materials and different handling characteristics. But in practice, I don't really want to ride bikes other than my own just yet. If it's a different style of bike for different kinds of riding, I am as enthusiastic about experimenting as ever. But for roadcycling on pavement, I would rather be on my own bike. It's as if I haven't had enough of it yet, even after 2,000 miles. The decals are peeling, but the proverbial luster apparently remains. I hope to get over this soon. Until then, you are unlikely to see much in the way of roadbike test-rides here.

Have you gone through a honeymoon phase with any of your bikes? What has it been like, and what happens afterwards?

44 comments:

  1. Honeymoon phases do not usually last long if the bike isn't right. Sometimes it has to do with the fact that the bike is new, drivetrain clean and it rides so smoothly. I had a specialized hardrock that I got in the mid 90's. I was excited as it was kind of expensive for me. It was the era of mountain bikes so it was all there was, but I loved that bike, adored it, took it on my travels and moves. It got stolen, it got returned. It just fit me perfectly and was still made in the dying gasp of lugs. It died tragically in a house fire and when time came to replace it, all bikes were aluminium. My surly long haul trucker romance was more like internet dating, we got married too fast, bought it without testing it or comparing to other bikes and immediately I realized it was a big mistake. I finally sold the bike last month after 3 years of trying to make it work.
    I had recalled loving my mom's 3 speed as a teenager, so one day found a magenta raleigh sprite and it was love at first sight. It only had 5 gears, could barely manage the hills but I loved it and rode it as much as possible in good weather. But then, I got my raleigh sports and rebuilt the wheels with drum brakes and internal hub. The bike is bronze green which I have wanted forever, but very banged up and rusty, there was alot of bad feelings about the process trying to get the bike road worthy again, so was unsure how things would go. I cannot believe how much I love it. I had to ride the sprite recently and I could not believe how difficult the gearing was, how had I ridden it at all? The honeymoon ended for the sprite. The raleigh sports is limited, it's not a road bike and can't do major hills, but love, love, love.
    The sevens sounds like a near perfect bike for you, still wonderful, no nitpicking, no annoyance. Congratulations!

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  2. 2000 miles and peeling decals? I think you are past the honeymoon phase.Face it, you simply like the bike! This is not a bad thing!!

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    1. Well, for some of the people I ride with 2K miles is like, what 3 measly rides? so it really depends on your POV : )

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    2. Wow! I figure I'm in the saddle about two hours each day which averages twenty five miles a day of moving about to work and errands. 2K in a handful of rides?! That's a lot of time on one's hands.

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    3. Randonneuring. The long rides are typically done over weekends. Here's a report of a 600K brevet from the point of view of support.

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    4. That's like running a marathon every weekend!

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  3. I like your weird Seven reviews. You are confused and maybe a little humbled. Looking forward to seeing where this goes some years down the road.

    Question. I see you have spacers on the stem. Has your position changed at all since you started riding this bike? How do you anticipate it changing in the future?

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    1. My road position has not changed since I got the bike. There is one 1cm (I think) spacer below the stem and the same above, just in case. But I do not feel compelled to go either up or down at this stage.

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    2. what size stem?

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    3. 10cm length, though this hardly means much without all the other figures.

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  4. Owned and loved this before my Flickr days, so no photos. Curtis' prebuild pics(those are his wheels, seat post and saddle are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/retrotec-inglis-cycles/2911061362/in/set-72157603802242311

    This bike to me was perfect for urban driving. A light sprightly single speed that could easily handle up to 20 lbs or so up front. Everything fit perfectly. You cannot tell in the pictures, but the bike was wired for dynamo lighting. I thought it looked cool anyway.

    I write of this bike in the past tense as, unfortunately, my beloved was brutally murdered by a (massively oversized for the area) truck that backed onto a sidewalk in front of Intelligentsia coffee. I was enjoying a coffee less than 10 feet away when the disaster happened.

    The handlebars and Campy mtb, lever survived and are currently on my new Clockwork

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  5. I should say so! I thought I was the only one with this feeling so I'm pleased to see I'm not alone!

    When I got my Tout Terrain Silkroad, an expedition touring bike with great road properties, I thought NOTHING could replace it. After two years, multi day tours and daily riding I was "sure of it". Now I have my Circle-A road touring bike which takes the best qualities of the Silkroad and lightens it up a bit so now that's my perfect bike. I have forced myself to take the Silkraod out and about, not to mention my old Bridgestone RBT, but my new bike is DEFINITELY the best bike ever. Really, trust me. I don't think it can get any better. Or can it?

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  6. I've gone through the dating stage and am now married to the bike I'll grow old with and have never felt the need to stray. Sure, I'll look at other sexy things out there but know that ultimately it would only be like masturbation--temporary--and I prefer a deeper connection :)

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  7. "Everything about it feels "perfect."

    To be clear there are better bikes for different road disciplines as an absolute IF the rider can make use of their x factor. Perfection is entirely subjective; nothing wrong with that.

    Frankly road bike reviews are boring because they're inevitably going to feel: fast but harsh, smooth but sluggish, numb but fast, numb but slow, lively but slow/fast, blah blah. One's personal opinion about them doesn't matter at all unless it closely aligns with the reader's.

    I see you got rid of that awful Fizik thing and got a real one, Jandd; I've had one forever, still going strong.

    P.S. It would be interesting to compare yours to the one I badgered you to consider: the same bike with a few mm more clearances for trail. See if there are any real world speed/handling differences.

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    1. The Jandd is the perfect size for non-camera rides and easy to open.

      Once I feel up to it, I hope to test ride a few interesting bikes including that one. Maybe in another couple of months.

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  8. Some bikes sing sweetly and keep on singing.

    I've got a bike that I prefer riding over all the others, for any occasion, just because it feels right. On paper, other bikes should be as good, but that formula rarely sings as good a tune.

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  9. That Honeymoon phase lasts a long time (until the bike dies?!?) if it is the right bike. If you fall out of love with a bike quickly, it is not the right bike.

    I am still very much enjoying my Kona Jake the Snake (2005 model) - the honeymoon never ended. Now that the drive train is finally sorted after a series of bizzare mechanical problems including a cracked rear hub, the bike is running like new. I have a lot of km on it. North of 20 000km I think (a bit of a guess but it is up there) and enjoy it now every bit as much as I did when I got it.

    My last commuter bike got 7003km put on it in 23 months. I loved it at first, and then started to get a bit annoyed with it. Something was just off about it. It was not a bad bike, it was just not the perfect bike for what I was using it for, for me. It had no soul. Now? It is gone to a friend who loves it, and I am riding around on a dirt cheap Kona btn bike. Even after 1200km of use in the last two months and a bit, I find it to be just as pleasant to ride as when I first got it. I suspect my "love affair" with the new bike will last longer than with the last one.

    My all time favourite bike is hanging on a hook and does not get as much use. Why? It is just that I don't mountain bike as much as I used to. Heather mentioned how much she loved her Specialized Hardrock. I have an old Specialized S-Works hardtail bike that I have hotrodded. I think it is starting to need a new fork; if definitely needs a new saddle. I rode it so much and spent so much time with it that my wife called it "the other woman". It also has about 20 000km on it give or take a bit. I really want to get it functioning again as it deserves. This bike has soul in spades. It is almost possible to believe it is alive.

    So honeymoon feelings? Oh yeah, they are real. Especially if the bike is right.

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  10. So how do you know when it is time to call it quits on a bike?

    You spend the time, money and energy on a new bike, but it just feels wrong. Is trying to make it work a losing battle if it's not magical from the start?

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    1. Speaking solely for myself: With the bikes I've owned so far, I have never had the experience where the bike started out not quite right, but improved over time. Today, if I got a bike, adjusted my fit properly, and it didn't feel the way I wanted, I would try to either return it or, if not possible, count my losses and resell.

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    2. This is different from my experience. A couple bikes felt odd to begin with but over time and miles fit beautifully. Like breaking in a pair of boots. The first month is crappy but then after that it's blissful.

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    3. That happened to me, too, when I first got my titanium Lynskey. I had put a lot of miles on a carbon fibre Colnago, which I really enjoyed, and when I first rode the Lynskey I found shifting awkward.

      Now it's my favourite bike ever.

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  11. As in all relationships, communication is key. Firmly but gently insist that your bike share its feelings with you. Do not accept the bike's argument that it is two tired.

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    1. I have to admit we don't talk much. It's one of those relationships.

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  12. It works the other way too, like the shotgun marriage that after awhile and a change in perspective turns out to be pretty great.

    I ended up in an arranged marriage with an aluminum and carbon 'cross bike earlier this year, and while the bike was sexy and ready to go it was sorta', "meh" for me. Not my type, too flashy, too red and, geez, all that plastic.
    I've done a couple of 'cross races with it and one big gravel road race/fondo/pot-luck and while we got along all right, I was staring at other bikes THE WHOLE TIME.

    And then I was reading Jan Hiene's tire tests and decided to do something I should have done right away, I let a bunch of air out of the tires. I've got great big 34c Hutchinson 'cross tires on it and except for actual racing in the grass and mud I've kept the pressure at the high end of the scale. So the other day I only pumped them up(down?) to 50 psi and went on this great dirt loop out in the sticks with all these rutted sections, gravel drifts and steep twisty "fall out of the sky" descents. Different bike. Completely and comprehensively Faerie Dusted(I didn't know that was what it was till you posted this but that's it). Everything about it is suddenly so perfect. It fit me and was always comfortable and all that but I couldn't get all worked up about riding that bike. Now I am. I snuck out of work early today to go ride that loop again and now I have to go back in for a couple of hours tonight to catch up. I'm going to do it again tomorrow and if the weather holds I'll prolly' do it again Wed.

    If I clearcoat it will the Faerie Dust last longer?

    Spindizzy

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    1. Many cross riders are using much less than 50psi. For those on tubulars I believe they are all using a lot less. Of course if you ride MTB style and do 6 foot dropoffs and stuff you will need some psi.

      Setup always makes a huge difference. I've ridden a Wastyn assembled by Oscar Sr., a Ritchey assembled by Tom, a De Rosa assembled by Ugo. a Taylor assembled by Ken. They all used completely normal parts anyone had access to. Did those bikes ride different? They sure did.

      Back when he was a teenager and half the time he just wrenched while chatting and didn't charge anything I had a few George Noyes tuneups. Twenty minutes of little touches to bikes that didn't have any problems to start with and Faerie Dust buried those bikes. He's expensive now and you have to go to France for the tuneup and those who go to all the trouble are not crazy.

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    2. It's funny, I run 45psi or less 'cross racing this bike on these same tires, but I would jack em' up to 85 or 90 on my gravel raids. I'm just old and set in my ways. I kinda like the nervous jittery feeling you get on hypertensive road tires but even I know that that only feels fast.

      All this experimentation with wide rims and super supple lower psi fat tires makes so much sense through the lens of all my MTB experience but I honestly don't think I would have ever thought to try it on the road. Too many blows to the head.

      Spindizzy

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  13. I forgot to add that I even gave her a name which I don't do with just any bike. Lafawnda.

    She's so hot.

    Spindizzy

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  14. I can go back to my last bike, a low end Lemond. I recall getting back on it early one spring and being amazed at how it responded to me - it was a fabulous ride. Of course, it may have been Jan Heine's "love the one you are with" but I certainly had reason to like it very much.

    Having said that, I borrowed the same Cafe Racer single speed that you did. I had a chance to ride it more than I actually did ride it but I really wanted to get back to my custom steel bicycle. That steel bike had 7000 miles on it so any dust certainly blew off by then. I put another 1000 miles on my bicycle since then and I still feel the same about it. My bicycle might just be perfect for me. It was, after all, designed for my body and my style of riding. Your bike may be perfect for you as well and there might not any dust so you might be feeling, and seeing, perfection. You couldn't see the dust even when new so there is no way to confirm this. And you know you love titanium, even if you can't get a lugged Ti bicycle.

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    1. Bruce Gordon made a couple ti lugged carbon tube bikes. Maybe V can convince him to do a straight lugged ti.

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    2. He has done a straight lugged ti (which is gorgeous) and wouldn't need convincing to do it again. The limiting factor is on my end!

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    3. Wow, lugged Ti! I didn't think it was done. I'd like to see if pictures of the frame, if any are out there.

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  15. Around 2004 I had surgery on my back. Early in my recovery I became smitten with the idea of recumbent bikes. I fell in love with a Rans V-Rex and felt sure it was biking the way biking should be. I was comfortable and the easy-chair sitting position seemed just perfect. Sitting back and watching the scenery go by I was sure this was a forever relationship. My back, my hands, wrists, neck and butt were all so happy.
    A few years ago something changed. My back was feeling more stable and upright bikes began catching my fancy again. Upright city bikes for doing errands and my good old Bridgestone RB-1 began distracting me again. The notion of just hopping on a bike and bopping to the store or across town filled my bike dreams. Bloggers like Path Less Pedaled had me looking at Brompton adventures and my wife and I bought them. The Bridgestone, Bromptons, and recently a Salsa Vaya are filling my fickle heart and the V-Rex is for sale and desperately needing someone new to love it.

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  16. To me, there isn't a honeymoon per-se, but based on what I can find and afford, there is an apex bike. Usually I have to make it. So, for me, my apex cruiser is a flip-flop UO8 with cyclocross tires and fenders/flaps. It's "too big" but fits and I'm comfy on it all day...just not all that quickly. My apex roadies is a mostly-stock Nishiki Modulus - it's heavy, has a unicrown fork, and is only a 12 speed, but I can hang with the club and don't have to worry about breakdowns.

    Working on making my apex rando - a '78 Raleigh Super Course. It started complete, but I'm going to be replacing almost everything but the frame and stem/seatpost/handlebars.

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  17. Desdemona is a beauty equal to your flights of fancy and your first ti bike that you have owned-no wonder it's an enduring crush. For the record, my Seven fast road is still my main squeeze and my sweetie always. Jim Duncan

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  18. switching from years of riding a crappy department store bike throughout college to a gifted vintage 10-speed univega was a revelation. I wish I still had it because I remember it being a lot of fun to ride around the city, but it was stolen some years ago out in front of the porter square mall. the skinny tires, the downtube shifters - I'd never ridden anything so light - first time I discovered just how fast you can go on a bike. I guess more of a first love than honeymoon... but you never forget the first true love...

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  19. As you know, I bought a restored vintage lugged roadbike in late summer of last year. (Hi, somervillain!)

    Though it was a very good initial fit, I discovered the quirks early, sorted them and am still finding something really nice about about it on every longer ride.

    That is, when I notice it at all. It's one of those nearly-not-there bikes for me, and I couldn't ask for anything more given the limitations of 35-year old technology.

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    1. Oh good, glad to hear that bike is working out!

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  20. The Seven we found on Ebay with 650c wheels fits me like an extension of my body - I live this second road bike that I didn't anticipate purchasing for a few more years!
    My Madone has languished since I got the stem properly set up on this sweet bike.
    Fit, feel and function keep the romance alive!

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  21. I must be really odd when it comes to new bikes. During my first month or so on a new bike it always feels really strange and it takes me that time to get accustomed to it. It might well have something to do with the fact that I tend to get something rather different from my previous bike when I buy a new one. (my adult bike history starting in 1991: late 70's Apollo 45 lb. ten speed, new 1993 Cannondale M800 mountain bike, new 2007 Kona Major Jake cross bike, 2009; got a 1993 Cannondale Track bought as a used frame in 1996 built up and on the road for the first time, 2010; picked up a one year old Trek beach cruiser at a garage sale) Never had a honeymoon with any of them as they were all so different from what came before but came to love them all in time.

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  22. well I sure have the experience of the opposite happening. I had put together a plan for my perfect commuter bike, which would have

    * folding frame, so I could do part of the commute on the train in driving rain (13m one-way)
    * BMX stunt rims for the Boston potholes
    * Thudbuster seat post for the Boston potholes
    * Big Apple tires for the Boston potholes
    * drop bars for the breezy suburban streets (before the Boston potholes)
    * front drum brake for the rain
    * Capreo hub/cassette for higher gearing on the 20" wheels

    it all seemed perfect on paper, and not cheap to assemble, either. but after I had built it all up (from the frame) and took it for a ride, I knew it just wouldn't work. didn't feel right.

    call it an anti-honeymoon...

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    1. If there is one thing I've learned, it's that you just cannot reliably choose a bike based on research alone, no matter how suitable for you it might seem on paper. The result will be a coin toss; there are too many factors.

      Test ride lots, and for as long as the store/friend will let you. The bike that feels right might surprise you.

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  23. I've gone through a lot of bikes in my life, and I've arrived at a point where I'm no longer very motivated by "more". Arriving at that point is helped by having three very, very competent bicycles to ride - Merlin and Hampsten (Kent Ericksen) road bikes, and a Lynskey mtn bike. I use one of the road bikes for relatively long periods, then swap to the other, and every time, it's eye-opening and fun to rediscover the bike that I've been off for a while.

    I try to work myself up into an acquistion frenzy every so often, but I don't succeed. Sounds to me like you have also hit that point. Sometimes enough is actually enough, and maybe, sometinmes, less is even more.

    On the other hand, I'd probably enjoy having a drop-bar bike that cleared 33's or 38's. :-)

    Once you have a truly good, truly competent bicycle, playing with minor tweaks -- saddle, bar tape, tires, not to mention tiny adjustments to position -- can give some of the same pleasures a whole new bike once did.

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  24. If I have, it's been a long honeymoon. My oldest tourer, now a teenager, has over 85,000 milrs on it and I still smile to see it

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  25. My favorite bike was acquired with the intention of making it any old fixie commuter. But it had other plans. It's a 1974 Raleigh Professional that fits really well, and I love the way it rides and the way it handles. The components have evolved somewhat over the years that I've had it, but the position hasn't. It's still a fixie, but now it's my weekend ride, brevet, and everything bike. From time to time I think maybe I should build up a good geared brevet bike, but Archie (that's its name) just whispers in my ear, "Maybe next year, or the year after..." and I never do it.
    So it's not a honeymoon at all, really more of an unintentional romance.

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